Understanding Stock Options at Startups (and at Moz)

Last Friday, SEOmoz held our “allhands” meeting at the Big Picture theater. Out of ~98 Mozzers, 85 of us were in attendance (sadly 3 had to leave intermittently to deal with a misbehaving Riak database we’d just upgraded). We’ve grown a ton over the last 6 months (from ~50 in January) thanks in part to our funding round in April.…

Time Recovery Hacks

Startup life has intense time requirements. In the early phases, there’s a lot of nose-to-the-grindstone need, and if the company successfully scales, the internal and external demands on your time rise dramatically. With this blog, and my commitment to staying close to the everyday issues of the marketing industry, I’ve had to build up a lot of segmentation to effectively…

Some Thoughts on Firing Employees

This past week, I read a terrific Quora thread on firing. The depth and breadth of answers shows the wide range of opinions and practices on the subject, and it made me think about the topic for this blog. Companies are rarely transparent about how and why they let people go, so hopefully we can be an exception here, at…

When Brilliant Minds Become Brilliant Jerks

The NYTimes Bits Blog has a worthwhile read from last week entitled “What Do You Do With the Brilliant Jerks?” I’d encourage startup founders and team members to take 8 minutes and read it thoroughly. On its face, the article didn’t strike me as especially controversial, but the comments(and some of the responses on social media) tell a different story.…

Interview Questions and Interview Strategy

It’s struck me of late that many smart companies with reputations for giving tough interviews are weirdly anti-strategic in their approach to interview questions. Chatting with folks from across our organization (and a few others) who’ve done their fair share of interviewing with Google, Amazon, Boeing, the US State Department, Twitter, Facebook, etc. I’m struck by what seems like a…

The Uncomfortable Challenge of Topgrading Your Startup’s Team

If things go well at your startup, there will inevitably be a point where the business is growing ahead of the team’s abilities. Engineers will find themselves facing architectural, scaling, and complexity issues they’ve never dealt with before. Marketers will discover their historical strengths dwarfed by the quantity and complexity of different customer acquisition channels and the huge challenges of…

Keeping Amazing People on the Team

Many of my posts on this blog are intended to be broad in scope and provide an opinion, data or experience about startup/marketing paths. This one might not fit that pattern as well. Rather than describing my thoughts or collected advice from experience on startup talent retention, I’m going to instead channel feedback from our employees themselves on what keeps…

Why Cash Bonuses Make No Sense in Startups

It’s tough competing for candidates with the likes of Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook. In the past 6 months, we’ve lost bids for half a dozen or so engineers to these companies, and more than a few mentioned the additional cash bonuses as one of the reasons they were motivated to choose these companies over us. Despite this, I’m holding…

Belief in the Mythical, “10X” Hire Hurts Your Team

There’s a long-running meme in the tech & startup ecosystems that goes something like this: The top 10% in any given professional field are the only ones good enough to work at a startup. And even among these, the 90th-99th percentile only contribute 1/10th as much as the amazing, top-tier 1%. A great team can only be built by recruiting…